Shorter Question Everything
• Led Zeppelin Receive Kennedy Award From Obama: Barack Obama tells the British band “you still rock!” as he awards them medals honouring their contribution to US culture. Dressed in black suits and bow ties, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page were among a group of artists who received Kennedy Centre Honours at a dinner event at the White House. Frontman Plant said he was flattered and overwhelmed by the award, adding that he was glad to see Jones and Page using “good table manners”.
• McCain Once Offered Identical Assessment As Susan Rice On Benghazi Attack: Just three days after the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said there were “demonstrations” at the U.S. diplomatic mission there and that the attackers “seized this opportunity to attack our consulate.” McCain also said during this Sept. 14 press conference on Capitol Hill that he wasn’t certain whether al-Qeada perpetrated the assault. McCain’s analysis of what occurred in Benghazi in the days after the attack on Sept. 14 mirrors Rice’s assessment during her Sept. 16 Sunday show appearances, saying that the attackers took advantage of a demonstration at the U.S. diplomatic mission: “It’s hard to know exactly what took place and how long it was planned, and — I don’t have that information. I know very well that there were demonstrations, that there was a group of either al-Qaida or some radical Islamists who — about 15 of them, armed with RPGs and other lethal weapons, that seized this opportunity to attack our consulate. And it was an act of terror. It wasn’t an act of a mob getting out of control. We should understand that. This was a calculated act of terror on the part of a small group of jihadists, not a mob that somehow attacked and sacked our embassy.”
• Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, says that if lawmakers are going to go after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice over her initial public assessment of the September attack in Benghazi then maybe Congress should also look at how President George W. Bush pushed bad intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
• House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he was “flabbergasted” when President Barack Obama opened debt talks by offering the same public positions that he campaigned on. According to details circulated by Republican aides last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s offer included $1.6 trillion in taxes, $400 billion in entitlement spending cuts and $200 billion in new stimulus of payroll tax cuts and efforts to encourage homeowners to refinance. The White House also asked Republicans to raise the debt limit as part of a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
• Vice President Joe Biden was in Mexico Saturday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Mexico’s President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto.
• Orly Taitz, the California dentist and attorney who has gained notoriety for her relentless efforts to prove that President Obama is inelegible for office, suffered another blow last week when an Orange County judge rejected her attempt to retrieve Obama’s college records.
• Obama’s Republican Revenge: [Re: the fiscal cliff] Finally, there’s the tantalizing “constitutional option”—invoking certain provisions with the Fourteenth Amendment to declare (yes, simply to declare) that Congress has no rightful role in setting the debt ceiling anyway, raise it unilaterally, and make the courts stop him. Many observers urged this route last year, chiefly Bill Clinton among them. Obama didn’t have the stones then. He didn’t even dangle it as a possibility just to make the other guys, think. Remember? He took it off the table unilaterally.
• Congo rebels withdraw from Goma. Move follows deal brokered by neighbouring countries and brings 10-day occupation by M23 fighters to an end. On Saturday, hundreds of M23 fighters packed into trucks and headed in the direction of Kibumba, 20km north of the city, bringing an end to their 10-day occupation of Goma, which they seized control of on 20 November. The rebels’ pullout follows an agreement reached in the Ugandan capital Kampala last week between M23 leaders and representatives from nations bordering DCR.
• Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court has said it is halting all work indefinitely in protest at the “psychological pressure” it has faced. Islamist protesters earlier prevented the judges from meeting in Cairo to rule on a draft constitution. The supporters of President Mohammed Morsi wanted to block any ruling that would question the document’s legality.
• Israel’s envoys in Paris and London were called in for consultations on Monday as the Jewish state came under huge diplomatic pressure over its settlement activities which the UN chief warned could wipe out peace hopes. It was the latest in a series of top-level diplomatic protests over Israeli plans to build 3,000 settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank that emerged on Friday with an official source confirming it was payback for the Palestinians winning the rank of a UN non-member observer state a day earlier.